Woods And Parquet Courts At SPACE Gallery In Portland Was The Center Of The Universe, For Just One Night

Woods Portland Main

iPhone 5  Woods

We introduced to the team at Tulip Frenzy the concept of a weekend road trip, magnanimously offering to fly them to the best rock’n’roll show anywhere in the world, wherever it might be.  One participant, a little long in the tooth, suggested we fly First Class to London to the see the Stones, with Mick Taylor, play at Hyde Park.  We were tempted, until we checked our bank statement.  Thankfully, it was at this moment that one of our younger folk — remembering well how we had named Woods’ Bend Beyond Tulip Frenzy’s 2012 Album of the Year ™, not to mention our having gone bonkers over them live last fall — pointed out that Woods was playing in Portland, Maine on Sunday evening.  Not only was it a little bit closer than London, but because Southwest Airlines flies there, we were now free to move about the country, and as a further inducement, our faves Parquet Courts were on the bill.  The matter settled, we opted for lobster roll + rock’n’roll.  We’re rather glad we did.

It’s all good news.  First, the next release by Parquet Courts is going to be a killer.

Parquet Portland Main

iPhone 5 Parquet Courts

They played the best songs from Light Up Gold — “Borrowed Time,” “Donuts Only,” “N Dakota,” closing with a (very) long “Stoned And Starving” — but at least two of the new songs were so good we stood there, 100 or so of the coolest people in the state of Maine surrounding us, our jaws demonstrably agape, and we didn’t care.  This one long, slow song in the middle was like seeing Television play “Marquee Moon” at CBGB or something.  And the penultimate song, with Austin Brown playing this batter-dipped lead line while Andrew Savage sang like a goddamned pop star was so good, we took the tee-shirt salesman by the lapels to demand he give us a release date. (He was vague, but fall seemed reasonable, and he set us straight that it’s an EP, not an LP, that you’ll see next.)

Parquet Courts are one of the very few contemporary bands that play as if nothing much has happened since the summer o’ ’79, and we say that as a high compliment.  They may be transplanted Texans living in Brooklyn, but they so easily would have fit in with downtown bands in Manhattan from that era that you feel like you are in a joyous time warp when punk wasn’t a style to be celebrate at the Met, it was the only way these kids knew how to play.  Take one part Feelies, a twist of early Fall, a soupcon of Richard Hell’s Voidoids and it all adds up to as glorious an expression of real rock’n’roll as exists these days.  And the  long, loping psyche jamming they elided into — and it is true that bands that are as comfortable playing songs that are ten minutes long as songs that are one minute long always bring a smile to the faces of the Tulip Frenzy hordes – make them a worthy underbill to Woods.

Jeremy Earl was in fine voice, which is to say hogs in Quebec were stampeding across the border by the time he’d finished “Cali In A Cup.”  He was quite nattily dressed in espadrilles, white-ish slacks, a proper blue shirt, and for the first time in recorded history, with trim hair ‘und beard and no hat.  He looked like when the set was over, he was going right on over to the Portland Yachting Club to trade sea chants with Thurston Howell — not as we remembered him!

Everything about Woods says force of nature.  Earl’s falsetto is a strange gift from the forest deities.  Jarvis Taveniere playing electric 12-string while Earl sings and plays acoustic, or bears down on satori while playing a pretty boss lead, is one of the wonders of the post-Byrds world.  I don’t know if the drummer is G. Lucas Crane — that’s the name listed as playing tapes and other gee gaws, but not necessarily the pounding of stretched animal hides with wooden sticks — but whomever he is, he’s a delight in concert.  And when Earl and Taveniere have set their course on astronomy domine, and they’ve shed their folk-rock booster engines in order to exit the atmosphere in psychedelic fireworks, well, it’s just at that moment that you realize all this racket is being both propelled and tied down by the remarkable Kevin Morby on bass.

Woods played our faves from Bend Beyond, including an alchemical version of the title track in which our brain matter liquified and our eyes spun like flywheels, and they too finished with a long jam of what we think is a new song but could well be mistaken.  Whatever it was, by this time many of the hard-working lobstermen and their whaling wives had left to prepare their nets, or whatever it is they were compelled to do at a comparatively early 11:45, Woods concluded the festivities, a smattering of applause rang out among the 50 of us still there, and we emerged into the streets wondering… well, several things.

One, how is it that the center of the rock’n’roll universe, on this particular Sunday night, ended up in Portland, Maine?  (Is it that Portland and Brooklyn bear such a locavore affinity, that the former has been absorbed into the latter, which would claim this part of Maine as a suburb of NYC?) Two, how is it that bands can be as great as Parquet Courts and Woods and not have it be them standing up before the multitudes in Hyde Park, instead of those skinny septuagenarians in the Rolling Stones who should have retired before Parquet Courts was born? How many evenings in a year does magic occur in a small space such as this with a 100 or fewer people there to recognize it?  Will Woods’ next album be as great as Bend Beyond, or might that be their peak? Finally, how is it that, among all the spots on earth where we could have been last night, we were lucky enough to have been there, to see Woods and Parquet Courts make an old sea port come alive like Moby ‘effin Dick was still on the loose?

2 Responses to “Woods And Parquet Courts At SPACE Gallery In Portland Was The Center Of The Universe, For Just One Night”

  1. […] we asked the question of whether, with Bend Beyond, it was possible that Woods had peaked.  It was pure speculation, rumination, based not on evidence but the mathematical logic that when […]

  2. […] it wasn’t a perfect show because Andrew Savage wasn’t in the finest vocal fettle, and having seen them in front of 100 people in 2013, we know how amazingly they can play live when the stars are aligned.  And our expectations have […]

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